It’s September, and that means that the children of Bonaire are back in school after a summer recess. It also means that the Junior Rangers have started their new year of activities. The Junior Rangers is a youth enrichment program on the island run by STINAPA, the non-profit organization that oversees and enforces the regulations of the Bonaire National Marine Park. Children enrolled in the program participate in afterschool and weekend activities that teach them about the marine and terrestrial environments of Bonaire and how to be stewards for these environments. Over the past couple years, CIEE Research Station Bonaire has been thrilled to offer activities to the Junior Rangers on marine-themed topics such as fish anatomy, coral reef ecology, and marine algae.
We kicked off our 2014-2015 Junior Ranger activities program with a lesson on external and internal fish anatomy. The students learned about how “form fits function” when it comes to anatomy. For instance, the caudal (tail) fin of tuna has a very different shape (form) from that of butterflyfish and this reflects differences in what they use their fins for (function). Tuna are long-distance swimmers that cover vast open areas while butterflyfish are short-distance swimmers that must maneuver through complex reef structures.
With this “form fits function” approach, students examined lionfish and explored external features such as the fins, color patterns, overall body shape and internal features such as the gills, teeth, liver, stomach, heart, and gonads. As an added bonus, we took a look inside the stomach of our lionfish and several students found recent meals (see picture). One student even found a parasitic isopod (relative of crabs) in the gills (see picture), which is interesting because invasive lionfish tend to have very few parasites in general.
This past week, we had an activity on marine algae. The Junior Rangers learned about the role of algae on coral reefs, the different large classes of algae, how to press algae (see picture), and even what household products contain algae.
Do you know what products contain algae? If you think you do, here is a bit of trivia to test your knowledge. Of the following 9 products, 5 commonly contain algae.
Sunscreen Sour Cream Yogurt Food Coloring Mouth Wash Orange Juice Ice Cream Soda Toothpaste
Pick the ones that you think contain algae, answer below.
Sour cream, yogurt, food coloring, ice cream, and toothpaste commonly contain algae.